GPEDC presents report at joint Lincoln, Logan County meeting

Send a link to a friend  Share

[February 07, 2017]  LINCOLN - On Monday January 30th the Logan County Board and Lincoln City Council came together for a joint meeting. Logan County Board Chairman Chuck Ruben and Lincoln Mayor Marty Neitzel presided over the meeting.

In attendance representing the Logan County Board were Kevin Bateman, David Blankenship, Janet Dahmm, Robert Farmer, David Hepler, Gene Rohlfs, Bob Sanders, Steve Schaffenacker, Adam Schmidt and Annette Welch. Representing the city of Lincoln were Aldermen Michelle Bauer, Rick Hoefle, Jeff Hoinacki, Kathy Horn, Todd Mourning, Steve Parrott, Jonie Tibbs and Tracy Welch.

The only item on the agenda was a report from Jennifer Daly and her staff from the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council. Daly opened with an introduction of the GPEDC to the group. She spoke about the members of the EDC Board of Directors as well as investors who lend financial support to the agency. She noted that 60-percent of the funding for the organization comes from the private sector and that the organization utilizes more than 300 volunteers to implement its various programs and projects.

Sally Hanley of the GPEDC spoke about the business visits that had been conducted in Logan County in 2016. She reported that she, accompanied by Bill Thomas of the Logan County Economic Development Partnership and also Cathy Wilhite of the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce, had visited six local manufacturers in 2016.

Hanley said the goal of the visits was to speak with the business’ managers or owners about their needs and to offer an assessment of business to identify if the businesses were at risk of failure. Hanley said she was happy to report that all six of the businesses visited in 2016 were strong and not at risk of closing or leaving the area. She noted that some of the businesses were planning or had completed expansion projects. Hanley said of the wide area the GPEDC covers, Logan County was the only county that had zero at risk manufacturers.

Hanley noted that for each of the companies visited their strength and weakness had been the workforce. The employees the companies have are an asset to the companies, but finding those reliable, productive employees in this area is a struggle.

Steve Parrott asked what formula was used to determine whether or not a company is at risk. Hanley said the GPEDC uses a nationally recognized scoring process, so each company is evaluated based on the same information. She said the survey used assists in identifying issues such as decreased sales, or a decreasing market.

Hanley and Daly went on to talk about diversifying “maturing market” businesses. An example of a maturing market was printers. It was noted that in the electronic age we are in, printed materials are giving way to electronically transmitted information, so that is a business area where diversification is going to be needed.

Another example given was the earthmoving industry, which is prevalent in Peoria County. In that area, the GPEDC is helping large equipment, and large equipment accessory and supply companies, to find other markets.

Nathan Davis of the GPEDC team spoke about his work in Rural Development. He noted that he had visited the areas around Lincoln and Mount Pulaski, talking with community leaders about the business and development issues they face.

Davis noted that currently, he is working on grants for broadband internet. He said that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has grant funding available for rural internet development.

Green areas on map indicate where internet service is readily available, but does not include wireless internet services.

Davis showed a map of Logan County that identified the concentration of internet in the area. The map he said didn’t fully represent the internet service in Logan County because it does not include wireless services. He said for the work being done, the only existing service included on the map was hard-wired Internet with download speeds of 4 GB or greater.

David Hepler asked if Davis had gotten any feedback from the Mount Pulaski area concerning the windfarm. Davis said he had spoken with the Mount Pulaski Mayor Jim Fuhrer and the city council, and there were mixed opinions about the windfarm. Helper asked if the city leaders felt the windfarm had impacted the closing of the town’s grocery store. Davis said he noted no connection between the two circumstances.

[to top of second column]

Other information shared included that the GPEDC is working on start-up travel grants. It was explained that as people start new businesses, there are times when they need to travel to market their products. The grant the GPEDC is working on will offer financial assistance to those businesses for travel expenses.

Daly also reported that the GPEDC had held workforce expos for fifth grade students, as well as high school students. In the Fifth Grade Expo, 55 students from Logan County had attended. On the high school level, 12 Logan County students attended.

Daly shared information about the “Live GP” feature on the GPEDC website and showed that Lincoln and Logan County have a page on the site.

She said that the Fifth Street Road project was still in the foreground. New grant applications are to be submitted by April 7, 2017. She noted that the project is now listed as a Top Ten project with the GPEDC and with CEDS, which will improve the chances of winning grant awards in the future.

Daly showed a list of all the grants that had been awarded to the GPEDC recently and said that the GPEDC is doing a better job and submitting and winning grants.

Rick Hoefle, looking at the list presented in the slideshow from the GPEDC, asked if any of the grants awarded were specifically for Logan County. Daly said that several of the grants were considered “regional” which meant that Logan County had the potential to benefit from the grant award. However, no grants had been awarded specifically or exclusively for the county.

At the end of the presentation, Neitzel asked if there were any other topics to come before the joint meeting. Bill Thomas of the LCEDP spoke briefly about of the new Enterprise Zone for Lincoln and Logan County.

At that time the official announcement from the state of Illinois on enterprise zone designation had not been made. The official news of the Enterprise Zone came last week during a meeting of the Logan County Regional Planning Commission. At the Monday meeting, Thomas said that the award had been given and that one local business was preparing to benefit from the new designation, utilizing the tax credits to afford some much-needed repairs and upgrades to its facility.

Hepler commented briefly on the Community Action Partnership of Central Illinois’ Jobs for Life project. He noted that the county had agreed to support the project financially. He said the city had also been asked for financial assistance. He wondered if the city planned to give money to the project.

Michelle Bauer said that the city is preparing to go into budget talks within the next few weeks. The matter is expected to come up then.

With no other discussion, the meeting adjourned.

In addition to the planned discussions, the group also heard briefly from Clint Pollock of Lincoln, who is starting up the ‘Lincubator’ project. The goal of the project is to gather talent and implement training in the field of technology. Pollock introduced the project and noted that he had met with Bill Thomas on several occasions to discuss the new project. Daly said that the GPEDC would also be interested in learning more about the project and perhaps working with Pollock in the future.

[Nila Smith]

Past related articles

Back to top